Adelphi University released "Mental Health on Long Island," the second report from its multi-year Vital Signs campus-community project to assess Long Island’s social health.
Adelphi University today released “Mental Health on Long Island,” the second report from its multi-year Vital Signs campus-community project to assess Long Island’s social health. Substantial data from 12 areas related to mental and emotional health reveal significant challenges for the region, particularly in addressing the needs of low-income residents and those who lack adequate health insurance.
The comprehensive, 49-page report is the second to support Vital Signs’ efforts to create a centralized resource to help inform policy and service provision and ultimately reduce existing and emerging social health disparities. Vital Signs was initiated by Adelphi University in 2004 in partnership with public officials, service providers, advocates, and community leaders and has been made possible through funding from the Bank of America Foundation, United Way of Long Island, New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, and New York State Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli.
“The report is a sobering diagnosis of the mental health of Long Island residents and the capacity of our health care system to respond to increased need and decreased funding,” said Vital Signs faculty director Dr. Suzanne Michael, an assistant professor of social work at Adelphi, who co-authored the report with project director Dr. Sarah Eichberg.
The report offers extensive data and in-depth analysis of 12 areas that directly affect the mental and emotional health of Long Island residents, including: the number of mental distress days; rates of domestic violence, self-inflicted injury, and suicide; and the proportion of prison inmates and homeless individuals with mental illnesses.
Where possible, the data in each category are broken out by zip code, income, gender, and race/ethnicity, and compared with state and national trends.
The results show that Long Island is facing many of the pressures that exist statewide and nationwide, which exacerbate disparities in the quality of mental health services for low income populations. Among these trends are:
Higher Psychiatric Discharge Rates for Lower Income Communities
The 2001–2005 average psychiatric discharge rate for Long Island was 8.1 per 10,000. Of the 10 zip codes with the highest rates, nine were in Suffolk County, the majority with rates of poverty higher than the county level.
High Mental Illness Rates for Inmates and Homeless
An estimated 30 percent of Long Island’s homeless are people with serious mental illness, about 660 individuals. Data show that roughly 15-20 percent of inmates in the Nassau and Suffolk County jails are people with mental illness.
More Mental Distress Days for Lower Income People
For 2005, Long Island residents with household incomes below $75,000 per year reported more mental distress days per month than those with incomes at or over $75,000.
“This report reveals a health care system in need of repair,” said project director Dr. Sarah Eichberg. “A changing demographic and economic environment and declining funding for mental health service providers mean greater suffering for the region, unless bold steps are taken now. Our intent is to reveal the extent of the challenges and spur stakeholders to embrace solutions.”
“Improving the mental and social health of the people in our region is in everyone’s interest,” said Adelphi University President Dr. Robert A. Scott, who conceived the Vital Signs Project. “Adelphi University is pleased to contribute to the dialogue with this important and revealing report and analysis.”
The report is available online at chi.adelphi.edu/projects/vital-signs. The project plans to conduct further research into the region’s social health over the next year, including the first comprehensive survey of health care access in Nassau and Suffolk counties to be released in September 2007.
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